The Cure for PowerPoint Myopia

Excessive squinting, headaches, general irritableness? You may be suffering from PowerPoint Myopia. It’s a condition we’re all victims of. After years of research, we may have found a cure to this appalling malady.

Guy Kawasaki espouses the 10/20/30 Rule and thinks 30 point font is the answer. Others vary from 8 point minimums, to 24 point. TJ Walker ironically advocates using no text at all (in front of a PowerPoint that has TJwalker.com written in text) then goes on to vote for 18 point.

When creating slides and decks, I don’t have a rule for text size or how big stuff should be. Instead, around our office, we have the 8ft. Rule.

PowerfulPoint---8ft-Rule --- What size font should I use in PPT.

Gavin_Animated-GifGavin is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at makeapowerfulpoint.com. You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.

More at Google+Facebook and Pinterest. Comments are welcome, links are appreciated. If you’re interested in writing guest posts for this blog, please contact me.


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  3. Richard I. Garber | October 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm


    An excellent rule. The earlier, longer legibility test I learned was to print the slide in question out as a landscape 8.5” x 11” (or A4) sheet of paper, bend over, place it on the floor, and then stand up straight and look down at it.


  4. ioanna aggelidaki | October 15, 2012 at 3:53 am

    hahahaha, now i will definitely remember that!

  5. Alessandra | October 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I like the rule, but I believe it applies when your monitor is at least 15-17 inches. With smaller monitors the full screen presentation view is easily too small.

  6. Larry Constantine (Lior Samson) | November 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    So glad to see that you remember what I taught you!

    In interaction design we have a similar approach we call the Squint Test. 1 meter from the UI and squinting, you must be able to read all labels and distinguish all icons.

    I test book designs (covers, interior) in similar ways. Covers must be readable and recognizable from across the room and at 1 meter in Amazon-style thumbnails. Body text must be easily readable at 1 meter. In this, as in PowerPoint decks, it is not the size of type alone that is important. Font style, weight, and spacing all affect readability, which is why it must be evaluated in realistic ways.

    If you remember from the classes I gave back at GartnerGroup, before presenting, I would always confirm the setup by putting up a busy slide and walking to the back of the room to see if it was still readable.

    –Larry Constantine (pen name, Lior Samson)

    • Gavin | November 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm


      Glad you like it. I didn’t know you were a novelist now as well. I will have to check them out!



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  8. Dave Paradi | November 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I had heard many of these rules of thumb in the past but was never satisfied with them because of what some other commenters have said regarding screen size for the 8ft rule or people’s different heights for the look at it on the floor test. I decided a few years ago to come up with an answer based on standards of visual acuity (what optometrists measure) and road signs that give valuable information to keep us safe when travelling. The only real answer to how big of a font you need to use it “it depends”. It depends on the size of the screen and the size of the room. So I used the standards to create tables that answer the question of minimum readable font size based on selecting these parameters. The tables are available for standard 4×3 screens and widescreen TVs, and are in English and French. You can download them at http://www.PPtFontSizeTable.com.

    • Gavin | November 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm


      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. I agree with you – it depends. The 8ft rule is designed as a simple way for people to get up and have a look. Your table is great for those of us that are a little more OCD about it. Thanks for the link!


  9. Juan Amorocho | July 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Please forgive me for being an idiot. Is there any medical study on this matter? I mean, if my vision is, say, 20/20 and at x cm from my screen I can read a word written on y pt, how long can I walk away from the screen before I can’t read it any longer?

    Now, I know TV designers have rules on something similar when designing Video Texts…


    • Juan Amorocho | July 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      I glimpsed at Dave article on font size the UK has a manual on it. I think it is useful:

    • Gavin | July 18, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Hi – this ‘rule’ isn’t based on a medical study, it’s the working rule we use in-house. Empirical based on our experience. But I would imagine there is some scientific basis for this, after all the eye exam for 20/20 vision is based on font size at a distance. Thanks

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